Zerillo’s MLB Daily Betting Model, Aug. 17: Take the Pirates Again vs. Jon Lester, Cubs?

Zerillo’s MLB Daily Betting Model, Aug. 17: Take the Pirates Again vs. Jon Lester, Cubs? article feature image

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kevin Newman

  • Sean Zerillo's MLB model helps you find edges when betting moneylines and over/unders for the full game and first five (F5) innings.
  • He analyzes Saturday's slate of games, including how to bet Cubs-Pirates (1:35 p.m. ET).
  • Plug in your odds to the spreadsheet at the bottom of this article to see where you might have an edge.

The Chicago Cubs (64-58) have blown ninth innings in each of their past two games.

On Thursday, they surrendered six runs to Bryce Harper and the Phillies in the final frame of a 7-5 loss.

On Friday, Kyle Ryan and Brandon Kintlzer loaded the bases with last licks in Pittsburgh, before rookie Cole Tucker drew a game-tying bases-loaded walk, and fellow rookie Kevin Newman sent the fans home happy after a walk-off hit.

The Cubs can’t wait to get Craig Kimbrel and Steve Cishek back in their bullpen mix, but for now, every late-game situation is an adventure for a team still threatening to take the NL Central or capture a Wild Card spot.

Recapping Yesterday’s MLB Model

At writing yesterday, the model would have gone 0-3 against full-game moneylines and 0-2-1 against moneylines for the first five innings (F5).

My plays went 2-5, and I finished down 1.67 units for the day; losing four separate bets by one run.

It was a moderately positive day in terms of generating Closing Line Value (CLV).

I gained 14 cents against the sides that I played, and 20 cents against game and team totals.

MLB Betting Model for Saturday, August 17

All odds as of Saturday morning (view live MLB odds). Stay tuned on Twitter or follow me in The Action Network App for my entire betting card for Saturday.

Today, the model recommends three full-game moneylines and one moneyline for the first five innings (F5).

As of writing, the 3.5% trigger threshold officially marked the Marlins, Orioles, and Pirates as full-game plays. The model also likes Orioles as an F5 play.

I’ll be waiting until closer to game time to see how high the Orioles moneyline price will climb. The last time that Asher Wojciechowski started, he upended Justin Verlander and the Astros as the biggest road favorite since 2005.

Wojciechowski is a capable pitcher, and his July 21 domination of this Boston lineup (7.1 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 10 K) put him on the national radar.

With Woj on the bump in Boston, the Orioles should be priced closer to +200 than +300, and I’ll wait to grab as inflated of a number as possible with the public piling on the Red Sox on a Saturday night.

I’ll also be backing the Pirates on Saturday, as I have enjoyed going against Jon Lester whenever I see line value.

It’s clear that Lester is no longer the pitcher that he once was:

Velocity isn’t completely indicative of performance. Lester’s strikeout rate is up, and his walk rate is down from 2018 — indicating that he hasn’t lost his command or control over the strike zone.

Rather, as his velocity declines, Lester is getting hit harder when he does get hit. The rate of hard contact against his fastballs is up 9% over 2017:

The average exit velocity against Lester’s pitches is also up 3 mph (85.4 mph to 88.4 mph) over the same period.

A noticeable difference in Lester’s 2019 arsenal is an increase in cutter usage and a decrease in four-seam fastball usage.

Given the velocity loss, it’s completely intuitive:

The cutter is Lester’s only pitch that has shown a positive pitch value this season and has been his bread and butter throughout his career.

Per Fangraphs, Lester ranks fourth in career cutter value (+71.4) — sandwiched between Corey Kluber and Adam Wainwright. To nobody’s surprise, Mariano Rivera ranks first (132.5).

Lester can still pitch effectively and eat up innings for this Cubs staff, but he is little more than an average starter (4.14 FIP, 4.19 xFIP) at this point in his career, and the betting lines seem to consistently move against him.

I also want to comment briefly on the Yankees total for Saturday, which opened at 11 runs. I have this game projected for 9.1 runs, and still see value on the under 10.5.

The Yankees have been the most profitable team for overs in 2019 (83-56-4, +23.4 units, 16.4% ROI) while Cleveland’s defense and lack of firepower has made them a strong under team (80-60-5, +16 units, 11.1% ROI).

Note, however, that the under is 38-37-2 at Yankee Stadium, and the over is an astounding 46-18-2 (+26 units, 40.3% ROI) when the Yankees have played on the road.

This game potentially sets up as a contrarian under between winning teams:

Overall, that system is 100-86-4 (+13 units, 7% ROI) at Yankee Stadium, including a 7-3 record in 2019.

Bets (So Far) for August 17

  • Pittsburgh Pirates (+128) Game Moneyline
  • Under 11 (-120), Cleveland at NY Yankees
  • Over 8.5 (-105), NY Mets at Kansas City

Stay tuned on Twitter or follow me in The Action Network App for my entire betting card for Saturday, August 17.

Zerillo’s Full MLB Model, 8/17

Download the Excel doc with my projections to input odds from your sportsbook. These projections cover the full game and First 5 moneylines and over/unders. A sample of one of the sheets is below.

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